Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 9/17/12

Carolina wasted no time establishing the run against New Orleans and piled up 219 rushing yards in the contest as the Panthers defeated the Saints, 35-27 on Sunday.

In a key divisional contest in which both teams came in 0-1, neither team wanted to leave in a 0-2 hole and it showed throughout the afternoon. 

Here's three things you need to know from the game if you are a Carolina Panthers fan.

1. Brandon LaFell is emerging as a star in the Panthers' offense. Carolina wide receiver, Brandon LaFell, hauled in six catches for 90 yards (with a long of 27) and found openings in the Saints' zone defense the entire game.

Every time the Panthers needed a first down, Newton looked to LaFell and he answered with catches for some big gains. The third-year wideout has solidified the No. 2 role and looks to earn more respect from defenses around the league.

2. The Panthers are 6-1 over the last two seasons in games in which Newton does not throw an interception. Unlike last week, the Panthers' offensive line gave quarterback Cam Newton plenty of time to throw in a solid pocket and Newton delivered.

Newton finished the game 14-of-20 for 253 yards and one touchdown pass (0 interceptions). Newton also had a 129.2 passer rating and rushed for 71 yards with a touchdown. 

Newton is 2nd player in NFL history with at least 250 passing yards with 125+ passer rating and at least 70 rush yards with TD in single game (Michael Vick was other).

3. The Panthers had 41 rushes for 219 yards and three touchdowns. Against the Saints on Sunday, Carolina ran 23 option rushing plays in offensive coordinator's Rob Chudzinski's diverse playbook for 145 yards and a touchdown.

Carolina ran the ball 13 times for 10 yards in Week 1 against Tampa Bay, including only one option play for a five-yard loss. It was clear that the Panthers wanted to attack the Saints with the run early-and-often and it did not disappoint.

Newton had 13 attempts for 71 yards, DeAngelo Williams had 14 attempts for 69 yards, Jonathan Stewart (returning from injury) had 11 attempts for 51 yards and Brandon LaFell had a 'statue of liberty' type play for 25 yards.

Injuries: Steve Smith was carted to the locker room at one point in the third quarter after re-injuring his knee, but returned to the game. He said afterward he's fine.

Thomas Davis tweaked his hamstring and Byron Bell twisted his ankle. Only injury concerns, per coach Ron Rivera.



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